Bane vs. Batman, or Me vs. Post-Pregnancy

So it’s been a while. Like… 4 months a while. Lo siento, but I was a tad busy. Having a baby and finishing a novel and all.

That’s a legitimate excuse, right? I should’ve thought about the logistics of trying desperately to finish a novel while also maintaining a blog and growing a human. But I’m back, now. Cause the bun is done cookin’ and the novel is done. It’s weird to write that. The novel, my novel – the story that has been bouncing around in my head/heart/soul since I first thought of Amaryliss and starting writing about her and Cree in Mr. Distaso’s 9th grade science class (no wonder I got a C) – is done. Edited, cleaned, and polished. The querying has begun, which might explain my return to blogging. I’ll need some catharsis from all the dart stings that are form rejections. (I’ve only gotten two thus far, but still. Many more to come, I am sure).

And it should say something that I’m more shocked that the novel is done than I am that I am now a MOTHER. I don’t know what it says, but I’m sure it says something. Her name is Aryn Lee Rose, she was born after 26ish hours of labor that ended in a C-section. I was not expecting the pregnancy to end that way, but I learned to expect the unexpected when it comes to bearing kids. One minute you’re lying in bed, numb from the waste down and needing your family to turn you over every half an hour like a beached whale, and the next – a very nice surgeon that resembles your 3rd grade teacher is smiling down at you, telling you you need a C section. It was strange, but if I’m honest – I was relieved. It wasn’t like labor was painful – I had an epidural – but it was emotionally taxing. I couldn’t sleep, because Aryn’s heart rate was dropping with every contraction. The nurses kept running in, hurrying to the door and then walking in like it was no big deal. They’d try their hardest to look at the monitors all non-nonchalantly, but I knew something was up. They gave me an oxygen mask and made me lay a certain way to try and ease her heart rate, and I just wanted my baby outside of me. It seemed that I was no longer safe for her. Then I came down with a fever, and I couldn’t stop shivering. They told me to chew the ice chips but not to drink any water. I thought “well, water is liquid ice, so…it can’t be all that bad…” So I drank water. And it turns out, your GI tract shuts down when you’re in labor, so I threw up every bit of water I tried to sneakily drink. So much for being covert. The actual surgery was a trip. I was laying there, like William Wallace (no, for real. The table was shaped like a “T”, and I was spread out like William Wallace at the end of ‘Braveheart’), and a surgeon told me – “we’re performing a C-Section because of failure to progress”. As I lay there, I couldn’t help but think that it sounded kind of like a weird sentencing. It was disconcerting, but not as disconcerting as the anesthesia that made it’s way up to my lungs and made it feel as though I couldn’t breathe. I’m not going to lie. I would love to say I was super brave, but I had to focus on my breathing. I was praying, and it was the only thing that stopped me from freaking out. My mind was spinning out of control, and it didn’t help that I could see everything they were doing to me in the reflection of the surgeon’s light. It took a few minutes for them to cut through me, and the surgeon talked me through every step. Then I felt a crazy amount of pressure as they pulled her out. After that, things got fuzzy. The surgeon stopped updating me, so I figured something else was wrong. They kept asking for more suction, because I wouldn’t stop bleeding. And I couldn’t hear Aryn crying. Ross didn’t tell me (and it’s good he didn’t), that Aryn came out blue, not breathing. What I did hear was the surgeons calling for the NICU doctor. I knew what “NICU” stood for, and I was freaking out. I knew I was bleeding too much, and I knew my daughter wasn’t okay. I tried to stay calm, but one of the last things I remember was calling the anesthesiologist over and saying, in my most adult voice, “Um… I think I’m about to have a panic attack.” She responded in the same type of forced-calm tone, saying – “Oh! Okay, I’ll give you something for that.”

The last thing I remember was the NICU doctor bringing my daughter to my side of the curtain. She was screaming then, and he said, “your daughter is okay!”His voice sounded far away, and I blacked out.

When I woke up, everything hurt, and Aryn was in a glass box next to me. Ross was standing there, watching as she got her first bath. We were moved to the recovery wing, and I began the long road to “recovery”, which seems more like a weird game of Chutes and Ladders. All I wanted (and still want) was to be up on my feet, able to do what moms do – but that’s not how it works. That’s been the hardest part, I think. I expected a rough pregnancy. “Rough” and “Pregnancy” have always seemed synonymous. I felt like a paid my dues – morning sickness, swollen ankles, aching back, weight gain, birth…I knew what I was signing up for with that. But I didn’t think I would still be paying for it even after the 9 month time frame was up, and was I wrong about that. It took two weeks to be able to walk, and that was incredibly painful. Then I mastered that. (LADDER!) But then I got Mastitis, which is like the flu on steroids (CHUTE.). But you can’t keep a good woman down – so I started working out. (LADDER!) But then, guess what? Turns out if you eat with reckless abandon for nine months and don’t really work out because you’re pregnant and YOLO!!!, it’s really, really hard to get back into the whole “working out” thing. (CHUTE. REALLY, REALLY BIG CHUTE).

In short, I feel like Bruce Wayne in “The Dark Knight Rises” when Bane beats the crap out of him and leaves him in that underground prison and there’s that montage of him trying to get back to his old self and FAILING. Basically. (Ross isn’t sure about how he feels about the fact that that comparison makes him a weird old man criminal, since he’s the one cheering me on and helping me out, but this is my blog and I’ll metaphor how I want).

So, basically – I survived childbirth and the completion of the novel and thought that would be the end of both. You know: #winning #imaboss, etc etc… but my fantasies of sitting at my book-signing, baby on my hip and six-figure deal in the back pocket of my favorite, size four jeans came to a screeching halt as I chugged along at a 1.8 mph pace on the treadmill, 35lbs overweight with a lovely rejection email in my inbox.

I had once thought – “All is conquered! There is no need for this blog after all!”… but I have a feeling this struggle is like a set of contractions. I survived one, and here comes another, and it looks like it’ll peak out at a ‘6’ instead of a ‘5’. So I’m going to keep writing, because this battle is just beginning. And if you think that’s melodramatic – put on a fat suit, surround yourself with explosive baby diapers, worry that the whim of an agent’s subjective opinion might forever squash your dreams, and fight tooth and nail to not become a post-partum depression statistic. “Battle” is a fair word to use in this situation.

But I have God, my wonderful husband (who believes in me and my dreams more than I do), my awesome family (who brings me food and changes more diapers than they ever should)… so I got this. I think.
Bruce Wayne got out of that cave eventually, didn’t he?


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